Nunavik MP presses Tories on UN indigenous rights declaration

Saganash private member’s bill would harmonize federal laws with UN declaration


Romeo Saganash, the New Democratic Party MP for Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou, introduced a private member’s bill Jan. 28 that would make all federal laws compatible with the 2007 UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights.

“It is time for the Conservative government to establish a nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous peoples in the wake of recent events,” Saganash said in a news release.

Private member’s bills rarely get as far as a vote in the House of Commons.

But as Idle No More demonstrators gathered outside Parliament Jan. 28, Saganash used his bill to throw questions at Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan (see video embedded below), accusing the Conservative government of failing to live up to the UN declaration, which in 2010 they agreed to support.

“Why did the Conservatives endorse the declaration and then ignore it? Saganash asked.

Duncan responded by saying the government will “continue to work with willing partners on shared priorities, including education, economic development and access to safe drinking water.”

And Duncan defended his government’s record by citing the 700 aboriginal projects he said they’ve funded since they took power in 2006.

“We are working in partnership with First Nations on the issues addressed in the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous People,” Duncan said.

On Feb. 23, Saganash and interim Liberal leader Bob Rae, along with aboriginal leaders, brokered an agreement that led to Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence giving up her highly publicized liquid diet protest, in exchange for a 13-point declaration.

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